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Windows is big, complicated, and misunderstood. You’ll still stumble across bad advice from time to time when browsing the web. These Windows tweaking, performance, and system maintenance tips are mostly just useless, but some are actively harmful.

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Windows 8.1 will automatically encrypt the storage on modern Windows PCs. This will help protect your files in case someone steals your laptop and tries to get at them, but it has important ramifications for data recovery.

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If you choose to manually update your RSS feeds on demand, there is a way to do this without having to send and receive your email at the same time. You can create a special Send/Receive Group for your RSS feeds.

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Windows 8.1′s Assigned Access feature allows you to easily lock a Windows PC to a single application, such as a web browser. This feature makes it easy for anyone to configure Windows 8.1 devices as point-of-sale or other kiosk systems.

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Windows gets so mad when you don’t safely eject USB media, but does it really matter? What’s the worst that could happen if you never safely ejected your USB drive and other flash-based media?

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By default, RSS feeds update automatically. If you have a lot of RSS feeds you follow, you may not want them all updating automatically. You can set up the RSS feeds so none of them update automatically, or only certain ones will.

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Antivirus programs aren’t perfect — especially Microsoft Security Essentials. If you’re relying on your antivirus alone to protect you, you’re putting yourself at risk. You should still follow basic, common-sense computer security practices.

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If you have a long list of emails and you’re having difficulty distinguishing among the individual emails in your list, you can select a grid line style to display between each of the emails. This can improve the visibility of each email in your list.

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If you have a lot of RSS feeds in Outlook, it may get very chaotic in your RSS Feeds folder. There is a way you can set up your RSS feeds using Search Folders so you can view only today’s unread feeds.

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Now that Skype has been merged with Windows Live Messenger, it’s more popular than ever. There’s no way to use Skype with a third-party client, but Skype does offer hidden features that can make it more powerful.

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By default, when you double-click on a contact in Outlook 2013, the new Contact Card displays for that contact. The Contact Card doesn’t contain all the fields from the full contact editing window that opens when you create a new contact.

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Browser extensions are useful, but they can increase your browser’s memory consumption, make it take longer to open, and slow it down in general. But how do you measure the impact a browser extension has on your system?

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Programs that automatically start with Windows can slow down your computer’s boot time, making you wait to get a useful desktop while icon after icon loads into your system tray. Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent these programs from automatically starting.

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Two-factor authentication secures your accounts with an additional authentication method, often a time-limited code generated by a mobile app. But what happens if you lose or reset your phone and can’t generate the codes?

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Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows Defender on Windows 8) was once on top. Over the years, it’s slid in the test results, but Microsoft argued the tests weren’t meaningful. Now, Microsoft is advising Windows users to use a third-party antivirus instead.

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You don’t just want an article or an individual image, you want the whole web site. What’s the easiest way to siphon it all?

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There’s a good chance you already use the VLC media player. But VLC isn’t just a media player — it’s a complete Swiss Army Knife for digital videos and music, filled with useful and fun features you haven’t found yet.

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Windows is complicated and needs many different system utilities and security tools to run well — or does it? We recently covered the many types of system tools you don’t need. Here are the few utilities you actually do need.

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Windows users see advertisements for all sorts of system tools and optimization utilities. It’s easy for companies to tell you that you absolutely have to run these tools, but you don’t need most of the junk on offer.

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Outlook 2013 introduces the in-line reply feature, which allows you to reply to an email directly in the Reading pane, instead of opening a separate window. However, if you prefer to use the separate message editing window, there is an easy way to access it.

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These days, it seems like every Windows user has heard about CCleaner. It’s widely recommended, online and offline. But what exactly does CCleaner do, should you use it — and how often?

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Windows is all about backwards compatibility, allowing people — especially businesses — to keep using their important applications on new versions of Windows. But there are limits. The older a program is, the more likely it will break.

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If you prefer to write your emails in Word, there is a way to send them directly to your recipients from within Word. This feature is not obviously available in Word 2013, but rather must be added to the Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar.

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On a PC, you can still play old games — which isn’t true for consoles. You may even find yourself actively buying these old games as they show up on great sales on Steam and elsewhere.

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When moving to a new Windows system, either after getting a new computer or reinstalling Windows, you may be tempted to copy a program’s folder to your new system just like you’d copy your files. But this normally won’t work.

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